Digitization & competition can raise Indian M&E sector from $15 to $120 billion: James Murdoch

MUMBAI: News Corporation chairman and CEO – Europe and Asia – James Murdoch has called for digitization of infrastructure to unlock the potential of India’s creative sector and underlined the need for ensuring that India’s creative market is competitive at home.

In his keynote address at FICCI FRAMES 2011, Murdoch said that digitization and competition had the prospect of raising the size of India’s media and entertainment sector from $15 billion to $120 billion as the creative sector could grow in proportion to its size in other advanced economies.

This would create millions of new jobs and help revolutionize sectors such as education and health care, while ensuring that India has a voice commensurate with her importance in global affairs.

With digitization, Murdoch said, the Indian industry would have the incentives to invest and create and the Indian customers would get the content and choice in keeping with the nation’s rich diversity.

By ensuring that India’s creative market is competitive at home, Indian creators, storytellers, and journalists would undoubtedly be hoisted to the world stage, Murdoch said and added that digitization brings content, distribution and connectivity together and helps them come alive. Countries determined to modernize their economies have put digital infrastructure at the top of their priorities, he remarked.

Murdoch said that the best way is to accelerate the liberalization of digital broadcasting. That means allowing greater investment as well as greater latitude for innovation, including vertical integration of content companies and satellite distributors.

Transparent, deregulated, market-based and addressable digitization will unleash a content revolution in India, Murdoch said. "Viewers deserve choice. In a vast and diverse country like India, no channel can try to be everything to everyone, and yet the prevailing regulatory system forces channels to adopt a uniform ad-dependant business model," he pointed out.

Expressing surprise at the almost exclusively domestic focus of news coverage, he said  that India’s 1.2 billion people all too often have to rely on foreigners for on-the-ground reporting. "The fundamental problem in news is the same as in entertainment; the status quo prevents the industry from developing a business model that will reward initiative and investment," he said.

For the creative sector, digital infrastructure will allow the right incentives for a more diverse and dynamic industry. This can be done through the market by accelerating the liberalization of rules with respect to investment, content, distribution, and innovation.

Murdoch said that for India to compete on the global stage, size alone will not be enough. For Indian media to compete globally abroad, it will have to compete globally at home.

Many Indian industries have already learned this lesson, said. For decades after winning independence, India’s economy turned inward. Over time, many products and services fell behind. In fact, it wasn’t all that long ago that the experts would tell you that Indian firms used to years of protection would never find their way in a hyper-competitive world market, he emphasized.

"Give the new generation of Indians the incentives they need to encourage their talent. Allow them to reap the rewards of their success and enterprise. Encourage them as they build a creative sector that reflects the passions and energies and beauty of this incredible nation. If we do, we will find not only that India will have changed, but India will be changing the world," Murdoch said.

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